For those who that know me, you know that I cycle. I ride a bike. A lot. I ride for causes. I ride for adventure. I ride for sanity. It is my passion. For all of these reasons, The B.A.R.R. as we know it today came into being.
The B.A.R.R., Big Audacious Research Ride came into being in the early spring of 2015 created by my good friend John Hoctor. As I know the story, John, who works for the American Cancer Society, was in Atlanta meeting with colleagues when they decided to go out and have a few adult beverages (research) after a day of meetings.
Conversation started about the PA Hope Ride an ACS event of which both John and I have participated in for 2 years. For the 2015 edition of the ride, John boasted that he would ride his bike from Columbus to Hershey, PA and then complete the PA Hope Ride that went from Hershey to Philadelphia.
Someone called his bluff. That someone is Jean Nagy, and she basically double dog dared John to do that ride. And all of us fans of “The Christmas Story” know that you can not back down from a double dog dare. So John is now compelled to do this ride. Jean was nice about it though. So volunteered to support the ride as SAG and also volunteered her husband, Chris, to ride with John from Pittsburgh on. To this day I do not know when Chris found out about his “volunteerism.”
It was a week or so that John posted on Facebook about what he was planning to do. When I saw it, well, you know, I wanted to go.
A quick sidebar. There is a quick way to find out if someone enjoys the same hobby or passion as you do. In this example, those that like to cycle. When you tell someone you are going to cycle from Columbus to Philadelphia and they cycle, they remark “How cool, that sound like an epic ride.” If they do not cycle they will remark, “What? Are you out of your mind? I don’t even driving that far, let alone biking that far!”
We all know what I said when I saw John’s post. I quickly texted him that I would love to join him on this adventure and he just as quickly said hell yeah. And after a few rides together and quite a few “planning” meetings (research), we had come up with a name for the ride. And then we were off on the grand adventure that was the 1st B.A.R.R. We went through rain, wind, dogs, the Amish and the Alleghenies to meet John’s boast to ride from Columbus to Philly. Many legends were made during that ride.
Unfortunately, that was the only B.A.R.R. that John or Chris ever participated in to date. But I unabashedly stole John’s idea of an epic ride and been a part of one every year since. With the help and planning of many good friends, there has been a B.A.R.R. every year since 2015. I am fortunate to be a part of each one. Each year has brought a new adventure and new and broadening experiences.
The first year was Columbus to Philly. The second was a bucket list item of mine. I wanted to ride around Lake Erie. So with much help From Sandy, her husband Tedd, Paul, Sandy’s dad Bob, whom provided support and myself, pedaled 9 days, over 850 miles, 4 states and 2 countries for B.A.R.R. 2016. Lake Erie is very impressive from the saddle of a bike!
B.A.R.R. #3 was an entirely different ride. I was joined on this version of the ride by Phil, Gregg and returning for more punishment, Tedd. This ride took us on the Northern Tier or part of it. There are three “tiers” that cyclists us to cross the country. Guess where this one is. Anyway, Phil was doing cross-country, just a section of the tier at a time and this year he wanted to go from Fargo, N.D. to Muscatine, Iowa. Another 8 day 830ish mile adventure. The twist this time is that we were self carry. No support. We carried every thing we needed. And there were hills. And rain. And cold. But the Mississippi river basin…absolutely beautiful.
B.A.R.R. #4. Again a totally different adventure. This took Tedd, myself, Sandy and Pat over the Greater Allegheny Passage and also the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath that goes from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. It is a mecca ride for cyclist and was a must on Sandy’s bucket list. This ride was different bikes, camping and mosquitoes. Also a lot of mud. More stories on this forthcoming as we just ended the ride.
So that it is so far. I would like you to know that there is a B.A.R.R. #5 on the horizon. Maybe even some off shoots of the B.A.R.R. as we all go off and find our own stories and adventures. But that is for a later post.
The most important part of all of this that even though we are small in nature on these rides, all of our friends are with us as we ride, just like flat Emily.
John and Chris will always be apart of this ride regardless of if they ride or not. Sandy is always with me as is all of my friends. Another reason of why I do these rides. To take you along.